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TGIF: A busy day at SBI and a look back at Thursday night’s games

Good morning folks. Apologies for the lack of posts this morning. Between finishing my ESPN piece on the Kansas City Wizards and choosing the SBI MLS team correspondents, I won’t be able to give you much this morning.

However, what I can do is give you a sneak peak at what is coming later today:

  • You Write the Caption: The best of the Streaker captions
  • (More of) Your Questions answered
  • A closer look at the Kansas City Wizards
  • This weekend’s soccer on TV
  • SBI team correspondents announced

For now I want your take on last night’s MLS matches. All I can say is Chad Barrett had a goal and an assist and Alan Gordon had an assist on the same night. No, it’s not still April Fool’s Day. That really happened.

I was impressed with LA, especially how Sean Franklin looked. He stays in the lineup all year. I thought he looked great at the MLS Combine and think he will develop into a rookie of the year candidate. I was disappointing with San Jose. Yes, they’re an expansion franchise but I just expected better.

The New England-Chicago result was a bit shocking, but not when you consider that the Revs lost Jeff Larentowicz to a red card seven minutes into the match. Going a man down is one thing. Having it be the player you were expecting to shadow and frustrate Cuauhtemoc Blanco is another entirely. Chicago still deserves credit for taking full advantage of the red card and for playing quality soccer. The East is loaded.

Share your thoughts on last night’s matches, and anything else mentioned above, in the comments section below.

Comments

  1. anyone see Khano Smith act like a petulant child when he was taken off by Nicol? New England went to a 3-5-1 after the red card (I thought it was harsh in real time at the game, saw the replay and it was deserved).

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  2. I thought the red card was a good call, but even if it was marginal, I’d rather the refs start erring on the side of caution rather than letting defenders make potentially leg-breaking tackles.

    As to the LAG game – I said it last night at the end of the thread and I’ll say it again – Galaxy need to move Beckham to the center of the field. When he plays out wide right, there is WAAAAY too much time when he doesn’t see the ball. You can’t have your best player (by far) go for long stretches without a touch.

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  3. Ives, Kudos for your scoping out Franklin. He played very composed for his first MLS action and in a postion we had not seen him at (CB). Also thought the Klein/Beckham/LD combination played very well. I’m a bit surprised that Ruud did not sub for Gordan towards the end..would have liked to see Jordan come in for the fresh legs.

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  4. I’m with all you guys about previous year’s refs sucking balls. It was time that dangerous and mistimed tackles got punished accordingly. Hopefully the quality of the refereeing will take a step up this year, it really makes the games more fun to watch when I’m not constantly griping about the refs.

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  5. Red card was a great call. I like MLS being a physical league, but the dangerous studs up tackles are ridiculous. As a referee, I could see how making that decision so early on in the game would be difficult to do, but he did not hesitate for a second. His hand went immediately to that back pocket, kudos to the center.

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  6. While the red may have been harsh by previous MLS standard, previous MLS standards suck. The league has allowed defenders to brutalize attackers for years. In needs to change. If this is a new trend, I’m for it.

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  7. Whine all you want about the calls but New England got drubbed!

    Larentwoicz went in violently with us studs up. When you do that you risk red.

    The defender ran directly up Mapp’s back. That’s just naive, you’re practically begging for a penalty whether you touch him or not.

    Considering the guys hurt, not getting minutes or not with the team yet (Robinson, Herron, Conde, Brown, Nyarko)this team looks like it has some depth (an odditiy in MLS). They look like they might actually be able to withstand an injury or two (except Blanco).

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  8. I will say this, thank you ESPN for putting JP Dellacamera in booth, he makes the Thursday night matches sooo much better. Overall I thought the production of the LA-SJ match was very well done. Oh and the action wasn’t bad either!

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  9. I was at the Galaxy game and I’ve seen a lot of Gal fan chatter about how great Gordon looked, but I still say he has feet of stone and the first touch of a chainsaw.

    Forget the second half chances that he wasted because he can’t get his feet to work together, the thing that made me despair was his second half chance that went straight to his shooting foot that he decided to take 3 touches with in the box and then shoot right at Joe Cannon. That was a one-time ball to the near post and that’s the real problem with Gordon. Can’t WAIT to get Ruiz back.

    I loved that the defense looked great, but then I realized that the defense looked great because San Jose’s offensive firepower makes a popgun look like howitzer. They aren’t easy to beat, but they’ll never, ever put you on your heels.

    I’m with Ives on Franklin, though. He’s going to be great by the end of the year.

    The middle duo of Pires and McDonald accounted for an embarrassing number of turnovers and McDonald seems to be genetically predisposed to leaving his feet on challenges.

    Ely Allen still doesn’t realize the pro game is FAST and is consistenly out of position, chasing the game.

    In the second half Becks touched the ball about 5 times including the wonderful assist to Landon and spent most of the last 25 mintues sitting out on the right with acres of space waving his arms like he was trying to land planes while the play went through a quartet of leadfoots bunched on the left: Allen, Pires, McDonald, and Gordon.

    If we play against any team with a moderately decent ability to pass and keep possession we are dead unless we can run the game through Landon and Becks. That is literally why they get paid the big bucks.

    All that bitching aside, I had a great time at the game and felt good about winning the home opener, even if it was against an expansion side. Getting Ruiz back is going to really put this team on another level, once he’s figured out how to play with everyone, and that’s something to look forward to.

    Because before then this team is going to take a pounding.

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  10. Al17 – while i agree that barrett’s decision making on runs may not be top notch, lets be frank here… as long as he consistently finishes i dont care what he does on the down time O.o…. yes he butchered Frankowski’s brilliant pass, as he didnt make the run… he was offsides 3 times, but seriously, he had 1 goal, 1 assist… he had numerous plays where he played it acrossed the 6 or back to the pk that werent finished by other fire players (whether misshot or failed to run to the ball)… he controlled the ball decently, not his usual crap touch…

    Barrett may not be a stellar forward, but he has YEARS ahead of him and will only improve…. as i dont expect to see him getting picked up abroad, he’ll probably be in the MLS till he retires…. the fire have a long-lasting forward with promise of improvement… always having the ability to drop him if needs be..

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  11. The early red card killed the CHI-NE game. Ref was terrible. Chad is our (USA) typical forward, lots of movement no scoring. I put Gordon in the same category. Made himself reasonably available but when it comes to getting the ball in back of the net…NADA.

    Level of MLS is MUCH improved. Should be a fun season.

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  12. yes, Mel; you *are* paranoid.

    First, you are talking about production of a television show. The cameras and the microphones are separate. Just because you could hear the quakes support does not mean the camera was just above them, it just means that someone put a microphone in a position to hear them. Any smart TV production crew will place a few microphones near the loudest crowd sections.

    As far as the camera panning at lightspeed, that was most likely a director’s error. The camera operators shoot footage, the director chooses which camera to put on the air at any moment. Unless its movement is a deliberate part of the broadcast (ie following the game or panoramic shots of the crowd and/or stadium) all camera pans are going to be fast–its the job of the camera operator to set up the next shot quickly and be ready. Likely the director (or his control room staff) screwed up switching away from that camera before the camera moved on to another shot. Certainly the scenario you imagine would never happen because if for some reason it was desired that SJ fans not be seen the director never would have broadcast the feed from the camera pointing at them in the first place.

    Besides, it is in the interest of the league and ESPN to emphasize fan support of *all* the teams, not just Beckham’s Galaxy. After all, ESPN will be showing games not featuring the Gals.

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  13. Interesting…the English press are following the exploits of the Galaxy…good and bad.

    Say what you want…this is good because now people are starting t understand there is a league in this country.

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  14. The red seemed harsh based on how the refs have been calling games in previous seasons. With this red card, and the red card on O’Brien from Colorado on Saturday, it may signal a change in how MLS referees call games.

    In my opinion there are way too many and unnecessary two footed tackles in MLS. If American defenders can learn how to play defense without leaving their feet we as fans will see better soccer and the USMNT might be able to finish a world cup match with all 11 players on the field.

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  15. I cheered for the Galaxy last night… I am ashamed and am going to the town square and giving myself 10 lashes.

    Maybe that will teach me

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  16. I actually thought Barret was horrible last night. I truly wonder if he understands where to run off the ball. There was one play in which he should have made diagonal run into space for a pass from Frankowski and he completely missed it. Frankowski makes the pass, Barret doesn’t make the run then you see a look of I wanted the ball here from Barret. No way in hell he would have been able to do anything with such a pass had it been made. That’s one of many examples in which I’m questioning Barret’s abilities as a forward. Now, the beauty is that the Fire’s loaded with forwards and with the long and brutal MLS season we will benefit from it this season.

    The Red Card was just. The ref was literally a few meters away from the foul and although the contact was minimal – thank goodness, the intent was definitely there. He could have fouled him in a different manner and got caught. Hopefully we will see more calls like this throughout the season on similar tackles. The PK was also justified. Kinda soft in my opinion definitely not intentional but the foul in the box and it’s gotta be called.

    Fire looked good playing a very simple system and I’d prefer to CJ in the back. We looked shaky at times in the back but it’s only the second match of the season and I’m feeling good. Four points from two matches isn’t a bad way to start the season. Great game from Busch in goal. Actually my men of the match are Blanco and Rolfe.

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  17. Hold on – Barrett as MOM?!? I agree he wasn’t as bad as with the U-23’s, but Blanco is running the show. Barrett had one nice finish, and one decent cross for an assist, but he bungled many chances. Maybe watching Gordon run around for the Gals made Barrett retrospectively look like the 2nd coming of Robinho out there, but lets not get too carried away.

    The Gals did look better, and showed some of their potential in attack mode, but they were ripe for the taking when they weren’t actively pressing. Better teams will punish them, they were up against the team generally considered the worst in the league.

    I think it’s pretty clear that LA’s combination of atrocious and brilliant will average out to .500 or so, which unfortunately will keep Lalas employed too long.

    Someone said wouldn’t LA love to have a half million to spend? Not if it means watching their General Moron blow it on Buddle, Xavier, and Vagenas – $500k, right there. That’s LA’s problem, not the big bucks spent on Landon, Becks, and the Little Fish that Flops.

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  18. The Quakes performance last I would sum up in one word, “spastic”. The guys look like their nerves got the better of them and with the fallacy going up early they never really settled. Mistakes were made in the back and we got punished. I’m actually not as worried about the offense right now. Kamara looked dangerous when on the ball but he needed support from the mid. So did Salinas.

    Ives, what was your impression with the way the game was presented. It was obvious to me that the broadcast crew went out of their way to not show the 150 Quakes fans that came to LA. I saw them once in the 90 minutes for about a half second before the camera man must have been told something and the camera panned away at lightspeed. It seem that the main camera was right on top of them, because I could hear the Casbah, 1906-Ultras and Club Quake fans cheering the whole time. But every time the word Quakes was spoke the sound turned down. So it went something like this, drum drum, drum-drum-drum, drum-drum-drum-drum, Go …..

    Do you notice this our am I just a paranoid Quakes die-hard?

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  19. Sometimes I don’t think MLS needs better referees; it needs better fans. That red card was identical to the foul that badly injured Eduardo: a heads-on, studs up charge, straight to the players legs with no intent to play the ball. No other call but a red card makes sense.

    The penalty was nothing but a penalty. The defender runs from behind the attacker and even the slighest trip is a foul. If it’s inside the penalty box, as this was, it’s a penalty. It’s the defender’s responsibility to stay away from the attackers legs; it’s not the referee’s job to take pity on anyone.

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  20. Chad is a high energy player but will never be technical or clinical finisher. Is that enough?

    Segares should be an all star.

    thou routed, the Gambians did look very good was impressed with them both.

    When Conde returns and Marmol comes in the Fire will be very tough to beat. With full strenght D the Fire attack can continue its free flowing attack which it dislplayed in the first half. If they can manage to get a legite R-Mid and put Rolfe up top with Frankowski….Then Barrett can come on as a sub and bowl people over, then miss…..

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  21. Indeed. What IS the story on Ronnie O’Brien and his expletives NOT deleted? When you look the ref in the eye and say “F@ck You!” (repeatedly) you should be carded for dissent. Hands down, no questions.

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  22. Zunganzan:

    That’s funny, my first date with Johansen went well, at least until she bit through the duct tape.

    Anyway, I thought the Quakes played better later, particularly after Glinton was subbed in. (I have a hard time believing I typed that.) Corralles was the major culprit last night – he was awful. But i have to believe he’ll improve, but I don’t like him in the role Yallop had him play last night.

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  23. kpugs- i dont tend to disagree with some of the stuff you say, but when i do i completely think the opposite of your opinion..

    Barrett was easily top man of the match last night… he created opportunities and finished… he stretched out the defense opening it up for the rest of the team… worked well with the rest of the team and overall did great for the fire… there were a couple times when he passed across the box when i wouldve liked to have seen him shoot, but its the thought that counts in this case… hopefully he continues this pace all season

    2nd man of the match- Segares… this guy completely shut down the left side…. he was class all night

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  24. A red card for Larentowicz’s out-of-control tackles has been a long time coming. Well deserved. He showed last week he can actually play the game, and it’s time for him to use his skill than to chop opponents down.

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  25. i thought Barret had a nice game, and actually had some quality first touches.. it was like bizzaro world.. fun atmosphere.. but the weather could have been nicer.. 32 and rain/sleet kind of sucked

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  26. I think that all MLS refs should take the PKs that they call.

    We’re not even a week into the season, and so far Okulaja, Toledo and Marrufo are in classic form.

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  27. The Earthquakes were collectively as relaxed as I’d be on a first date with Scarlett Johansen.

    They’ll settle in eventually and buck the expansion trend.

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  28. The RED CARD was an awful call.

    Watch it again. The NE player was there 1st and on the ground with the ball and THEN the Dhicago player came in and tripped over him.

    Yes he went in studns up, but the other player wasn’t even to the ball yet.

    A poor call.

    Another poor call made last night…

    In favor of the leagues favorite team no less!! San Jose scored against LA. They WERE NOT offside!!! Goal disallowed in favor of Alexi’s marketing machine. That saved their a$$ big time!

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  29. I agree with Nick above about the Galaxy. For the sake of the league, they need to at least be DECENT and make the playoffs. Beckham scoring is good for visibility and the interview with him and Lando at the end of the game was good as well. I really enjoy JP and Harkes on the commentary as well.

    I thought it was cool how into the game Becks was. He’s a fiery, competitive guy and is clearly not here on a vacation (though there are definitely ulterior motives for him being here).

    The Quakes have NO ATTACK. They might pull something like Colorado last year and score less than a goal per game on average.

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  30. The red card was rightly deserved! MLS referees have to send a message that studs up tackles will not be accepted!

    I also hope that the officials crack down on dissent. A player on San Jose yelled “F*** You” right in the referees face. Unacceptable.

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  31. I agree that the red was reasonable. To me the issue wasn’t the results of the contact or that he showed studs, it was the fact that he went well out of his way to hit the other player. Plus his foot was way of the ground when he did it.

    I thought it was a weak call at first, but running it in slo-mo on my DVR showed me what the ref must have seen. Given the light contact, it could have been yellow, but red was easily reasonable.

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  32. kpugs-

    I have to disagree. I thought Barrett was the Man of the Match. Great hustle. Goal and an assist. Checked well to the ball. Laid off passes nicely. The one he shot over the bar, he created his space (and felt the ball was deflected off the defender’s foot). I was at the game, but will be watching the video replay tonight to determine if my opinion changes.

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  33. It seemed like he wasn’t even looking to get the ball. As he was starting his slide, you can see him turn towards the player and slightly away from the ball. I honestly could see it be either a yellow or a red. Sorry, but I cant get on the ref for that one. It was wreckless.

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  34. I think the injuries to Brown, Robinson and Conde are all day-to-day. With the cold, rainy weather yesterday it would not have been wise to have a bunch of guys recovering from muscle strains running around on the wet grass. The Fire have 9 days until their next match (at San Jose) so I fully expect to see the full defensive lineup against the Quakes.

    I’m going to disagree with Joe – the Fire miss Brown’s size and composure in the middle of their defense and I would prefer to see C.J. partnered with Gutierrez or Soumare if Conde is unavailable/unwilling. As well as Prideaux has played, I’m still partial to Dasan Robinson on the right. Segares is class out left.

    Not related to the game or the lineup, it looks like the Fire are well under the salary cap with around $400K + allocation money. Watching the Revs and Galaxy deal with injuries should impress upon everyone how vital depth is to this league. How happy would Gulitt and Lalas be if they had an extra $500K to fill out their roster?

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  35. I thought the red was justified. He went in two footed studs up. He didn’t make a ton of contact, but he should know better than to go in like that. I could see him getting away with a yellow, but I wouldn’t consider a red out of line.

    Before last night I hadn’t seen a lot of Blanco, but I was impressed to say the least. He isn’t the quickest guy out there but he can get around defenders whenever he chooses and his passing is awesome. The through pass he had that led to one of Frankowski’s goals was amazing.

    As for the Galaxy, I’m not a fan, but I want them to do well for the league, and I have to say Beckham and Lando played really well together. I know Beckham isn’t known for his speed, but him and Donovan were playing some quick one-two balls in the middle of the park that were so good!

    Great night of soccer, I was completely entertained.

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  36. The red card may have been a bit over the top, but I like the message it sends. The hacking has to stop. I’m all for good, hard clean tackling, but studs up should NEVER be acceptable.

    Having said this, we also need to crack down on diving. I understand this is a professional sport, but let’s try to maintain a level of sportsmanship. Otherwise, this isn’t the beautiful game anymore.

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  37. I saw San Jose play in Charleston v Red Bulls and they looked really good – organized, good pace, and dangerous – all the things they did not look against LA. I must say LA pressed well as a team and San Jose gave the ball up like it was their job. I wish LA would not have taken their foot off the pedal quite so soon in the game. Also, Donovan has to be better throughout the course of the game and Beckham has to touch the ball more if they want to win.

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  38. Refs red card decision was shocking, penalty decision shocking, and totally ruined what would have been a very good game I was looking forward to. That being said Chicago did put the game away. At least the Revs kept fighting.

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  39. Personally I thought Barrett was awful. He managed to put a weak ball into the net from 8 yards out. He constantly gave the ball away, didn’t make a single good pass, always goes for glory and 99 times out of a 100 his attempt at glory ends up sending the ball into row Z.

    Good for him, he got a goal, but he was still terrible.

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  40. I don’t know Ives, I wouldn’t hang too much of it on being a man down. I thought Chicago looked great before the Card and I had a feeling it was going to be a romp after the first 5 minutes. The Card only helped that along. I was really impressed by the Fire, makes me wonder how NE beat Houston 4-0. Joseph looked totally lost which is very rare. I don’t think NE is bad though, but they certainly tried the best to change my mind last night! I guess I have to leave the credit to the Fire and the fact that they just totally outplayed NE right from the get go. I agree, the East is looking scary good.

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  41. San Jose looked like it was their first time to ever play together practice or anything in the defense. They also lack forwards. LA needs Ruiz back fast, Gordon is plain awful. Chicago would have won despite the red, even though it wasn’t a red. Is Barret like Twellman and Ching and Kljestan. They do well in the MLS but get trashed during national team duty and look like idiots out there.

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  42. I was at Toyota Park last night and the Fire played really well. The red card might have been a bit harsh on the refs part. The tackel was wrecklees but it was only 7 min and really sealed NE fate. Chad Barrett played really well and was dangerous on the ball. I dont think I have ever said that before. If he plays that way for the season he will have a great year. Im a big CJ Brown fan but I really like the pairing of Diego and Bakary in the back. So I am interested in seeing Hamlett’s first real coaching decision he needs to make. Do you know anything about CJ’s injuries??

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